CA Rescuer Charged with Cruelty, Pound Manager Not Charged with Irony

buell case dog

One of the dogs seized in the felony cruelty case against Buell, as shown on the NBC Los Angeles website.

In April 2015, Apple Valley Animal Services seized 13 starving dogs from rescuer Sherre Kay Buell.  One dog was dead in a trash can on the property, one died on the way to the vet, and two had to be euthanized due to their poor condition.  Buell has been charged with 12 counts of felony animal cruelty in Apple Valley and 3 counts in Hesperia (where she reportedly used to live).  A preliminary hearing is scheduled for December 3.

Starving dogs is unacceptable.  Full stop.  There is video at the link of a little girl trying to comfort a severely emaciated dog who is too weak to stand.  It’s heartbreaking.

Killing pets, which is what they do at Apple Valley Animal Services, is also unacceptable.  And there is no hope of recovery from death.  Which puts the manager’s comments on the case in rather a – what’s the word – stupid light:

“I think that’s one of the most difficult things for any of us in the animal welfare position. Why do people hurt animals?” asked Gina Whiteside, the manager at the Town of Apple Valley Animal Services.

Yes please killsplain to us why people hurt animals while I browse through page after page of all the animals killed at your facility every month.

“There needs to be some animal action at the state level that regulates animal rescuing,” Whiteside said.
While shelters are regulated by law to humanely care and provide for the animals they take in, the same rules are not in place for rescue groups or the people who foster, explained Whiteside.

The Real Problem. Identified.

So we want to hold rescuers to the same legal standards as shelters that hide and kill animals. Because that would be better, somehow.


Whiteside acknowledged animal cruelty issues extend beyond the cases against any one individual, calling for progress to be made in laws and procedures dealing with general animal services.
“In my opinion, anything short of changing the ‘status quo’ when it comes to ‘saving animals lives’ does not signal that we (shelters, rescues, the community) want better outcomes for animals in need of our services (at every level),” she wrote.

*Mother of All Coffee Spews*

Being starved and alive with the hope that someone might save you is actually a better outcome than the “services” offered in Apple Valley’s kill room.  The status quo at far too many so-called shelters like Apple Valley is convenience killing. Any interest in changing that?

The Apple Valley Municipal Animal Shelter dealt with its own controversy this summer after Richard Marx and other celebrities on social media criticized the shelter for euthanizing four puppies, which officials had first unsuccessfully tried to house in foster homes. Whiteside said the criticisms, however, were the result of misinformation and distorted facts.

Probably the case for the many, many, really a lot many animals killed at Apple Valley.  Just a bunch of hooey.  If only we had harsher laws for rescuers!

(Thanks Clarice.)

45 Dogs Removed from Abandoned Property by Rescue Before Police Arrive

An odd story out of New Mexico:

An Alamogordo animal rescue group says it saved dozens of dogs from an abandoned puppy mill. The group claims the local sheriff’s department wasn’t doing anything to help but the sheriff’s department says that’s just not true.

The allegedly abandoned puppy mill appears to have housed bulldogs and a number of mixed breeds. Approximately 45 dogs and puppies were taken by the rescue. The director of the group says she contacted the Dona Ana Co sheriff’s office about the dogs but was told flat out that no one would be coming, which seems strange.

A sheriff’s office spokesman says a supervisor was dispatched in response to the call and arrived to find no one on the property and all the animals gone. Because the dogs had been removed by the rescue, the sheriff’s office says it was unable to conduct an investigation which may have resulted in charges against the dogs’ owner.

The director describes “very badly wounded dogs” who were dying on the property but doesn’t elaborate on the nature of the injuries.  A video posted by the rescue appears to show dogs in good condition.

The group is selling the puppies for $2200 and has a Go Fund Me set up aiming to raise $25,000 for care of the dogs.

Without a police investigation (due to the removal of evidence), there is no way of knowing whether the dogs were better off before or after being rescued – or if their situation is pretty much unchanged.  This type of head-scratching case underscores the importance of transparency.  We demand it of our public shelters (although we don’t always get it) and we should expect it from non-profit (?) charities as well.  People busy scratching their heads are not writing checks.

(Thanks Clarice.)

Dallas Animal Services: Skanks Gonna Get Themselves Locked Up If They Don’t Step Off

You may remember Dallas Animal Services from such knee-slapping exploits as oops killing a bucket of kittens while a foster home was being arranged, secretly killing 4 dogs slated for rescue and leaving a cat trapped inside the pound wall to suffer and die.  Now, more hilarity as compassionate citizens who care for strays at an area well known as a dumping ground for dogs who appear to have been abused are painted as criminals:

Are volunteers who feed stray dogs committing a crime? Public statements from the city’s own animal shelter agency and an officer in the Dallas City Marshal’s Office suggest that the volunteer group is breaking the law and possibly harming the animals. “You cannot feed in the city of Dallas,” an officer says in a recording taken by volunteers Marina Tarashevska and Leslie Ysuhuayles. He cites an unspecified “ordinance,” an ordinance that CBS-11 was unable to find when they followed up with a story on volunteers’ encounter with the marshal. Afterward, the city’s animal shelter and animal control agency weighed in. Dallas Animal Services posted a “clarification” on its Facebook page, defending the marshal. While there are no ordinances that actually ban people from feeding loose dogs, the shelter acknowledges, the volunteers may be guilty of littering. Dallas Animal Services also says that people who feed loose animals without doing anything else to help are doing more harm than good. “#IfYouFeedItFixIt,” the posts ends, implying that the volunteers confronted by the marshal were only “feeding” and not “fixing.”

Turns out, the people doing the feeding are also capturing, neutering and adopting out the dogs –  things DAS apparently knows little about.  In fact, DAS is more concerned with outsourcing the killing of its pets in order to “maintain stable workforce” than having its employees actually shelter animals.  (No takers so far, which is weird.)

But just so we’re straight:  The Dallas pound wants to clarify that, while there are people out there tying dogs’ legs together and dumping them (some dead, others still alive) at this one site, it’s the people feeding the dogs who are, in OJ terms, The Real Killers.

(Photo by Casey Post)

(Photo by Casey Post)

Blaming local rescuers, especially Ms. Tarashevska – an outspoken critic of DAS, is standard fare. The pound’s social media coordinator, Rebecca Poling, appears to get a paycheck for it:

In September, Poling shared [on her personal Facebook page] a screenshot of a post that Tarashevska had written that cites the Observer story and criticizes the way Jones runs Dallas’ animal shelter. A group of other rescuers responds with name-calling. Stacy Smith, a co-founder of the Humane Society of Flower Mound, writes of Tarashevska,”#rescuebarbie.” Kate Larkin, who operates a rescue group called Rag Tag Rescue in East Texas, follows with the short and simple “#bitch.”

Erin Schults, who operates Mazie’s Mission animal rescue in Frisco, writes in the thread that Tarashevska will “eventually fade away. When her face is chewed off by a dog she is ‘saving.'”

Others pounce on Tarashevska’s appearance.

Poling, for her part, doesn’t resort to name-calling, but she doesn’t discourage it, either. “Are people still listening to this skank?” Shults writes in another comment in the thread, to which Poling replies, “Unfortunately, yes.”

Neither Poling nor city spokesman Jeffrey Clapper have responded to an email requesting an interview about Poling’s social media strategy.

Social media strategy. #LOL #YouPeopleSeemNice

If I lived in a city where freaks were abusing dogs and dumping them in plastic bags, I’d be kinda worried.  And if it was my job to investigate animal cruelty in that city, I guess I’d get right on that start waving something shiny to distract the public and blame rescuers demanding I do my job for kibble littering.  Which is in fact, a gateway crime.  Every time someone gets their face chewed off, you can always trace it back to skanks putting out kibble.

Never change, DAS. You keep on trying to find someone to kill your animals for you and blaming the public for all the things and social media strategizing.  Your cultural blend of 1940s sheltering philosophy, criminal laziness and Texas sized hate is so uniquely you and becoming harder to find as the rest of the nation progresses unabashedly toward 2016.

(Thanks Nathan and Mike.)

Nashville Pound Kills Owned Dog with Rescue Hold

Sadie Mae, as shown on the WKRN website.

Sadie Mae, as shown on the WKRN website.

When Sadie Mae got lost late last month in Nashville, her family began looking for her.  Sadie Mae’s 6 year old girl made these posters to tack onto phone poles in the neighborhood:

Photo via WKRN website.

Photo via WKRN website.

Owner Janet Mabry checked lost and found pet postings on social media and came across a listing for Sadie Mae on a Saturday. Someone had found her and taken her to the Nashville pound the previous Thursday, placing a rescue hold on the dog if she went unclaimed.

The pound was closed at the time Ms. Mabry saw the listing for Sadie Mae and did not re-open until Tuesday morning. Ms. Mabry called to reclaim her pet as soon as the pound opened on Tuesday but was told Sadie Mae had been killed by staff:

“She kept saying her time was up, her time was up,” said Mabry.

The Nashville pound had held Sadie Mae for the minimum 3 day stray hold then killed her immediately after it expired. The director, Lauren Bluestone, told WKRN that Sadie Mae had been given a temperament test and failed the portion on dog aggression so: Kill. Immediately. The owner says her pet was sweet and had never exhibited any signs of aggression. The director also wants it noted that the owner is a slob and it’s all her fault the dog is dead anyway because:

  • Didn’t file a lost pet report.
  • Didn’t leave a message at the pound while it was closed.
  • Didn’t have the dog tagged or microchipped.

And as far as the finder who placed a rescue hold on Sadie Mae, it sounds like she’s a slob too:

“If truly what she had said was a miscommunication on our part as far as a rescue hold,” said Bluestone. “I’m getting two conflicting sides.”

Metro said it has nothing in writing to verify if there was a hold on the dog.

So many shady people wanting to keep dogs alive in Nashville, sounds like. Thank goodness the Nashville pound director is on duty to administer tests and monitor that 3 day hold clock and mete out punishment to keep everyone in line.

(Thanks Clarice and Arlene for the links.)

Mitchell Co Kills Pets Slated for Rescue

A statement from the Mitchell Co Correctional Institute in Georgia indicates an adoption rate of just 21% at the pound and reads, in part:

On September 1, in accordance with its policies and procedures, Mitchell County Animal Control was regretfully forced to reduce the population of stray animals in its custody in order to maintain humane conditions within its capacity limitations. The County’s priority is to find homes for these animals as often as possible. However, with limited resources to house the constantly growing number of stray or forfeited animals, the County has no choice but to control the population.

Some of the dogs killed by Mitchell Co on September 1, as posted on Facebook.

Some of the dogs killed by Mitchell Co on September 1, as posted on Facebook.

Translation: On September 1, Mitchell Co killed 25 dogs and 22 cats – nearly every animal in the facility, including many who were slated for rescue:

“There was animals that were put down that were promised to be safe and to come in and see the furnace going was devastating,” said [pound volunteer Kathy] Harrell.

Imagine volunteering for a shelter and walking in to care for the animals you are helping to get rescued only to find them in the fucking furnace.

Apparently Ms. Harrell is one of the lucky ones allowed to help shelter staff do the jobs they aren’t doing.  Other rescuers have reportedly been turned away:

Janet Goree says her efforts to help get animals adopted from Animal Control have been denied.

“We are all volunteers that want to see this happen, but the Animal Control won’t let us help,” said Goree. “The doors are firmly shut in our face.”

An adoption rate of 21%, killing animals rescuers are willing to save, turning away volunteers – it doesn’t look like Mitchell Co is doing the best they can, as we so often hear from killing apologists.

To be fair, I took a look at the facility’s website to see how they market animals.  It directed me to this page to see the available pets:

mitchell co 1

Screengrab from the Mitchell Co website on September 9, 2015.

Screengrab from the Mitchell Co website on September 9, 2015.

Just in case this half-assed effort for two dogs (or halves of two dogs) wasn’t the only effort being put forth by the county, I went back to Google and found this page:

Screengrab from Mitchell Co website on September 9, 2015.

Screengrab from Mitchell Co website on September 9, 2015.

Now true, they only have one dog advertised here, and she’s from 4 years ago, but how about a round of applause for managing to upload the entire photo?  Finding homes for shelter pets is clearly a “priority” for the county.  And they are “regretfully forced” to kill animals, whom they haven’t marketed and whom rescuers are willing to take.  But nobody wants to kill animals.  That would be like, evil.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Lost, Microchipped Pets – Emphasis on LOST

In theory, microchipping your pet is an excellent way to help get him back home should he ever get lost.  In reality, microchips are useless if the organization taking in lost pets doesn’t scan for them or contact the registered owner (and the alternate contacts, if necessary).  There have been a spate of stories recently involving microchipped lost pets being found and the owner not being contacted.

A Pennsylvania family who left their microchipped German shepherd Sophie with a relative while they went on vacation this month only found out she had gotten lost on July 4th after they returned home on the 13th.  They immediately called the HS of Westmoreland Co and learned their pet had been impounded on July 6 and adopted to a new owner six days later.  The HS says it tried to reach the registered owner (whom the family obtained the dog from) listed on Sophie’s microchip but the voicemail at that number was not set up.  After the 48 hour holding period elapsed, they offered the dog for adoption.  The original owner disputes the shelter’s claim about her voicemail.

Either way, if a chip’s first phone number doesn’t yield results, there are always the alternate contacts as well as registered mail and good old knocking on door.  But I guess that sounds like work.  The HS claims the adoption is legal and that the family never legally owned Sophie anyway because they hadn’t licensed her.  So stuff it, basically.


In Sonoma Co, CA, a lawsuit has been filed by the original owner of a 10 year old tuxedo cat who was microchipped at the time he went missing several years ago.  The current owner, who says she bought the cat 5 years ago from a rescuer she met through her veterinarian, only found out the cat was chipped last year when she took him to a new vet who scanned him.  She attempted to register the chip in her own name, prompting the chip company to contact the original owner.  The original owner says she bottle fed the kitten from birth, searched for him extensively when he got lost and still wants him back.  The current owner loves him too and doesn’t want to give him up.

Had either the rescuer or the first vet scanned the cat at the time he was found, he could have been returned to the original owner.  Now two people are heartbroken over the matter and a cat is caught in the middle.


The city of Alton, IL recently eliminated funding for its ACO position, turning those duties over to police.  This week, Alton police responded to a call about an injured dog in a store parking lot.  The 15 year old dog, called Buster, had wandered away from home and apparently hurt his rear leg.  His owner had filed a missing pet report with the police department including a description of Buster and his microchip information.

A witness says she saw police coax him into their car with bologna.  State law requires the officers to take the dog to a vet’s office to be scanned for a microchip.  Once the chip’s information had been read, the owner could have been contacted.  Instead, the officers reportedly drove the dog to the AC facility where one shot him twice with a .12 gauge shotgun and the other put two bullets from his .40 caliber Glock 23 into the pet.  After Buster was dead, a chip scan provided his owner’s information and the owner was notified of his pet’s killing.  Oh and the police love animals:

“We know what our protocol has been up to this point,” said Emily Hejna, public information officer for the Alton Police Department. “We were presented yesterday with some law saying something that might contradict what what we have been using as practice.”

Rather than task the police department with figuring out how to work compliance with some law into their protocol, the city voted to reinstate the ACO.  Hopefully the ACO has – and uses – a chip scanner.  While animals are still alive.


(Thanks to everyone who sent me links for this post.)

ACO Accuses TN Shelter of Acting as “A Puppy Mill for Rescue Groups”

A friend of Cheatham Co ACO Darrell Hooper reportedly tried to adopt a stray Doberman at the pound but was turned away.  The potential adopter was told the dog was being held for a rescue group.  A Doberman rescue in Knoxville is said to have pulled the dog from the pound for free and sold her for $300.

ACO Hooper says this isn’t an isolated incident, especially when it comes to purebreds and puppies, and that he’s brought his concerns to the mayor several times but nothing has changed.  After his friend was prevented from adopting the Doberman, ACO Hooper angrily confronted the pound director in the parking lot:

“I questioned him. I said, ‘So we’re just a puppy mill for rescue groups? Are we just providing them products to sell?'” Hooper said. “He shook his head yes in the affirmative and again he stated to me, ‘You don’t understand the political ramifications of this.'”

The heated argument ended with ACO Hooper punching the director.  He has since resigned and publicly apologized.  But he still wants the county to change its protocols regarding rescue groups.

The local news contacted the director who declined to be interviewed.  They also contacted the rescue group and a representative told them they would have been happy to pay the $50 fee Cheatham Co normally charges to adopters but nobody asked them for any money.

On the one hand, breed rescues offer a valuable service.  They understand the breeds they rescue better than most and that may help them to make more successful matches between dogs and adopters.  A breed rescue would be better equipped to handle special needs cases of their given breed since they have the expertise and resources and ideally might be more motivated to make the investment.

On the other hand, it’s hard to justify a stray dog being left to sit in a pound while an adopter is turned away.  Assuming the dog faced no extreme challenges (e.g. a legally designated “dangerous dog”) and the adopter was just as qualified as the average adopter at the pound, why leave the dog in the cage to take up space needed by other homeless pets and to potentially get sick?

Cheatham Co AC’s website says:

Cheatham County Animal Control is a county government run facility that receives nearly 2200 animals a year with room to house only 50 at a time. Only four staff members clean, feed, treat, bathe, intake, answer phone, and make onsite calls for: at large, cruelty, neglect, and all other issues. The staff also works to save every animal possible with limited resources. Cheatham County is over 360 square miles and is filled with unwanted animals. Our county compliance on vaccinations, spay/neuter, and safety of animals is low. We are leading our staff and our community toward a culture change – which will take time…time our animals do not always have on their side.

It sounds like the Cheatham Co pound could use all the empty cages it can get, like most municipal facilities.  But if ACO Hooper’s allegations are accurate, the pound may be keeping cages filled unnecessarily with “high value” dogs and puppies by holding them for rescues.  Are other pets, particularly those whom no group could expect to sell for $300, being killed by Cheatham Co in order to make space for the white-and-fluffies being held for rescue groups?

All shelter pets have the right to live, regardless of their resale value.  Is anyone in Cheatham Co advocating for the right of all the animals in the shelter to live, political ramifications be damned?  There seems to be a need.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Kern Co Pound Exporting Sick Dogs

The UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program consulted on the troubled Kern Co pound in CA in 2008.  At that time, a report was issued which detailed, among other problems, lack of leadership and rampant disease at the shelter along with recommendations for how to reduce and prevent it.  Standard protocols such as the quarantine of new arrivals and examination/vaccination by vet staff upon intake were on the list.

Fast forward to 2015 and it appears as if disease is still rampant at the Kern Co pound and that few, if any, of the 2008 recommendations from Koret have been implemented.  A group that flies shelter dogs from the area to rescues elsewhere along the west coast recently suspended its partnership with the Kern Co pound after a number of the facility’s dogs were found to be sick upon arrival.  Despite all the dogs having health certificates from the pound’s vet, interim director Nick Cullen admits in an email that in fact some of the dogs had never been vaccinated “due to reported behavioral concerns”.  Three of the sick dogs died.

In response to the rescue’s refusal to take more sick dogs labeled healthy from Kern Co, Cullen has asked Koret to come around for another consult.  I guess he wants a current report to ignore because you know, ignoring the old one is so 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013/2014.  Cullen also wants to reassure taxpayers that a cleaning chemical used for disinfection at the pound is being diluted correctly.  He had a consultant in on that one too.  So the disinfectant is being diluted correctly and apparently used to clean cages housing sick and/or unvaccinated dogs next to healthy ones.  Pound workers who are not on the vet staff are “examining” the animals and deeming them fit for transport, even if they are deemed unfit for vaccines due to behavior.  The vet is signing the health certificates and then the dogs are loaded onto planes and arriving with symptoms of serious illness.  It sounds shoddy, at best.

Like his predecessor, Cullen blames the public for the pound’s failures:

We are seeing an inordinate amount of illness in animals originating from Shafter, Mcfarland, and Arvin areas. Much of that is due to those communities being less involved in vaccinating animals with core vaccines.

Gee, if only there was some kind of magical way to make sure animals coming into the pound were vaccinated, even if their vaccine history is questionable.  If only there was someone at the pound who would take responsibility for that, somehow.  If only Koret would have told Kern Co about this in 2008 DOT DOT DOT.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Florida Pound Oops-Kills Pregnant Dog Tagged by Rescue

Rosie, as pictured on Facebook.

Rosie, as pictured on Facebook.

A rescue group had committed to saving a pregnant dog called Rosie at the Sumter Co pound in Florida this week.  But pound staff killed her because of a clerical error.  She was supposed to be on the save list but got put on the kill list instead.  Oops:

A mistake was made by a very good employee,” Sumter County Public Works director Richard Baier said.

Gee, I hope they don’t have any really super good employees there.

It’s wrong to kill healthy/treatable dogs.  That right there should have been the staff’s first clue that a mistake was being made when Rosie was walked into the kill room.  It’s also wrong to kill pregnant dogs, causing their unborn pups to suffocate inside the mother’s belly.  That would have been a second clue for the staff that Rosie should not be killed.  But apparently staff at Sumter Co are accustomed to killing healthy pets, including pregnant dogs, and no one even hesitated when killing Rosie.

This is the problem.  It’s why we need systemic shelter reform in this country.

Rosie’s would-be rescuer shared her heartbreak on Facebook.  The county says it will institute a system of cross-checking in order to minimize oops-killings in future.  I guess this is where we’re supposed to be all yay.

(Thanks to everyone who sent me this story.)

Update on Greenville Co “No Rescue/No Adopt” Dog


Millie (fka Beanie)

The dog at the Greenville Co pound who was labeled “No Rescue/No Adopt” by the vet was released last week.  A representative from SNARR pulled her.  I contacted SNARR for an update yesterday and received this response:

Millie (Beanie) is doing well! Other than being really arthritic and having a heart murmur and being blind and super old, she is a sweet sweet girl :-) Millie is very affectionate and loves to be held. Our biggest immediate need for her is a HOME ; whether it be a foster or an adopter. She is currently still in Greenville SC but we can easily bring her up North if need be. So if you know anyone who might be interested please have them contact me ASAP.
Thank you !

Thank you irresponsible public, once again.


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